Spanish Fork running back Christian Taele (8) eludes Carbon's Dillon Manzanares on his way to the end zone for a touchdown. Taele finished with two touchdowns on the night as the Dons ran out to a 42-0 win against Carbon in the season finale on Wednesday night.
If a casual observer in the stands wasn't paying close attention on the field during the Carbon High and Spanish Fork football game on Wednesday night, they might have had a case of mistaken identity of the teams competing.
The Carbon High Dinos have no problem standing out, with the nickname of the Dinosaur being the only reported use of the name in the country for any school.
But the visiting team, the Spanish Fork Dons, may not have been as easily recognizeable. In fact with their uniforms adorned with the scarlet and grey colors, they could have been mistaken with the Ohio State University college football team.
With the results on the field, especially in the first half, that could have been a fair comparison as the Dons looked like a Division I college team as they scored early and often against the Dinos in a 42-0 shutout.
In their first season in class 3A play after being reclassified down from 4A, Spanish Fork has put themselves into second place in Region 12 play and a spot in the playoffs starting on Friday night.
From the opening whistle in their first game against each other since 1989, Spanish Fork overpowered Carbon both offensively and defensively. The Dons finally broke the scoreless game as the Dons running back Christian Taele scored on a 12 yard run to go up 6-0.
The Dons added two more touchdowns before the end of the first quarter with quarterback Hayden Nielsen connecting with tight end Andy Perkins on a 35 yard pass and Taele adding another score on a 28 yard run to put them ahead 20-0.
The first quarter did not end well for Carbon as running back Dillon Manzanares fumbled the ball on a handoff from quarterback Dakota Cisneros. Spanish Fork recovered the ball at the 30 yard line in Carbon territory.
On the first play of the second quarter, Carbon cornerback Colton England intercepted a Nielsen pass and raced down the sideline finally going out of bounds in Spanish Fork territory.
Carbon's offense was unable to take advantage of the turnover. On fourth down, a bad snap resulted in Carbon turning the ball back over to Spanish Fork.
The Dons wasted no time as they turned the Dinos misfortune into another score as Nielsen found Perkins for a 28 yard touchdown catch to put the visitors ahead 26-0.
On the ensuing Carbon drive, the Dinos were able to gain a chunk of yardage as Cisneros scrambled away from Spanish Fork defenders before connecting with wide receiver Garrett Hunt. Again misfortune hit the Dinos as Hunt fumbled the ball away on the catch, which was recovered by Spanish Fork with 6:09 left in the second quarter.
The Dons again put together another drive down the field. The Dons offense scored another touchdown but were flagged for a personal foul, nullifying the score. On the play, Carbon's Manzanares was blindsided by a Spanish Fork player, lifting him off his feet and his helmet disloging from his head.
Carbon High coaches and players were livid with the referees for what they perceived to be Spanish Fork players showboating and congratulating each other for the hard hit on Manzanares.
Despite the hard hit, Manzanares was able to stay in the game.
While the personal foul penalty pushed the Dons back, they scored again on a yard touchdown reception by wide receiver Luigy Paulino from Nielsen. Cisneros, who plays cornerback on defense for the Dinos, nearly intercepted the ball on the play before Paulino was able to gain possession in the end zone to extend the lead to 33-0.
On the following possession, Carbon was pushed back deep in their own territory which resulted in a safety for the Dons when Cisneros was sacked in the end zone to make it 35-0.
As if things couldn't get worse for Carbon, the misfortune again reared its ugly head. Paulino took the punt after the safety and broke threw the Carbon defenders for a 50 yard punt return to push the lead to 42-0 going into halftime.
With the game at hand going into the second half, Spanish Fork mainly kept the ball on the ground while running clock. Both teams rested their first string players, allowing for many underclassmen to get a lot of playing time through the final two quarters of the game. Carbon sophomore cornerback Todd Davis provided one of the second half highlights as he intercepted a pass for the Dinos in the fourth quarter.
After the game came to close, Carbon players gathered together on the sideline one final time. They rang out a loud cheer before beginning the walk to the locker room.
Carbon head coach Jeff Blanc said he was proud of the team's effort against a strong Spanish Fork team.
"We worked really hard and tried," he said noting the bigger and stronger players on the Dons roster.
He appreciated the effortof the team, including the 17 seniors on the squad who donned the blue and white of Carbon for the final time.
"Those 17 seniors worked their hearts out and were a special group I've been around since they were sophomores," Blanc said.
Despite the final score, Blanc said he loved the fire the team showed in the second half, especially after seeing the hard hit on Manzanares which drew the flag from the officials.
The fact that Manzanares was able to get right back in the game after the hit, "says a lot about Dillon and how tough he is," Blanc said.
With the loss, Carbon 4-5 overall and 0-5 in Region 12, finished the season under .500 for the 11th straight year. Their last winning season came in 2000 when they finished 9-3 while advancing to the 3A quarterfinals.
The five straight losses was not how the team wanted to finish the season, especially after the 4-0 start, but Blanc said the future looks good going forward.
"We have to create a positive atmosphere and I think we're capable of doing some special things next year," he said.
While the next game for Carbon High will happen in August, that doesn't mean there is time to waste between now and then.
"We start again on Monday in the weight room," Blanc said, "because football season never ends."